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State of Emergency In Bangkok Subsides – Safe to Travel

State of Emergency In Bangkok Subsides – Safe to Travel

Thailand’s Protests Dissipate, Bangkok and Rest of Thailand Safe to Travel

On Tues Sept 2 2008 Thailand was declared a state of emergency as protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundarevej.

Demonstrations were mostly clam however Samak declared a state of emergency in the capital Sept 2nd, after anti government campaigns sparked street fighting which left one man dead and several people injured.

Thailands Protests Subside Bangkok and Tourist Destinations Return to Normal

Protests began to get heated after 500 Samak supporters – some carrying sticks and wearing helmets – stormed government compounds trying to remove the opposition, People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who had been demonstrating throughout the previous week.

As thousands of protestors and police surrounded Bangkok’s Government House, several brief scuffles which included the assault of a national broadcaster and the death of one student were reported, but Samak pledged to negotiate an end to the crisis rather than try to drive the protestors out by force. The military also insisted it would not intervene.

Protest quickly took a peaceful mood and soon demonstrators could be seen lounging in the offices and singing along to protest songs outside.

Samak’s plans to undo constitutional changes made during the former military-backed government, making it easier to ban political parties, appeared to be the cause of the recent protests. Under these changes the People’s Power Party (PPP), Thaksin’s new political vehicle, face disbandment for alleged vote-fiddling in December’s elections.

Thaksin supporters are also calling to undo a legislation which protects all the coup makers’ actions, including the creation of a powerful panel to investigate corruption allegations against Mr. Thaksin. Removing this clause could get Mr. Thaksin off the hook and put the coup makers themselves in the dock.

As a result the court has now ordered Samak to step down as Prime Minister. Initially, the ruling party promised to re-elect Samak as Prime Minister, but now party leaders announced that Samak will no longer be considered for the post.

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundarevej Removed From Power

Following the court’s decision not to let Samak run for re-election, the Thai parliament has now voted in Thaksin’s brother in-law, former judge and justice minister Somchai Wongsawat, as the new Prime Minister until the next elections take place.

Somchai Wongsawat Thailands New Prime Minister

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was originally removed from power after the non-violent military coup in Sept 2006. Thaksin and his family fled to the Britain to escape corruption charges.
After 16 months of Military rule the public voted into office a coalition led by Mr. Thaksin’s supporters and Samak Sundarevej.

On May 25th around 2000 supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), an anti-Thaksin group, returned to the streets with a rally in central Bangkok. Although numbers were smaller than had been predicted by organizers, the peaceful demonstrations were enough to trigger counter protests from Thaksin supporters.

Demonstrators Display Anti Thaksin Signs

The recent conflicts have resulted in the 19th political upheaval since the absolute monarchy came to an end in 1932.

Despite the political unrest in Thailand, most areas of Bangkok and Thailand remain safe, perhaps the worst affected by the political turmoil are those businesses who rely on foreign trade and tourism.

Many tourists and business visitors prepared to leave the country and many others cancelled future holidays and work commitments as the news that Thailand had been declared a state of emergency was announced.

As protests subside and the streets of Bangkok return normal, a topic that did not seem as important for the international press was how citizens and visitors to Thailand were little affected. During the height of the protests three popular airports in the south had been temporarily closed and traffic in the capital was at a standstill. However, these effects have all but dissipated and Thailand has once again become a safe and easy place to travel.

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